The Dangers of a Single Story: Africapitalism and the future of Africa ~ Olumayowa Okediran


Africa has been a case of charity for too long, the narrative has been about a continent so poor that it cannot by itself break free from the shackles of poverty; it has been about a continent struck with the pestilence of corruption and horrendous economic situations. The usual solution to this quagmire peddled by our governments to the international community has been that of foreign aid. A United Nations Office of the Special Advisor on Africa (OSAA) and the NEPAD-OECD Africa Investment Initiative for African policymakers and their development partners’ policy brief reports that “Africa receives about 36%, of total global aid more than any other part of the world”. Over the past four decades, aid to Africa has quadrupled from around US$11 billion to US$44 billion, with a net increase of almost US$10 billion during the period 2005 – 2008 alone. Our governments have passed Africa’s begging bowl from one developed country to the other like a poor man begging for alms. As an African who loves his continent, I find this despicable and dehumanizing.

Unfortunately this has been the narrative of a  single side to the story. In a 2009 TED Talk Nigerian writer Chimamanda Adichie explained the catastrophe of a “single story”, and it is more catastrophic when African governments are the storytellers. I consider our story, our identities as Africans unsafe in the hands of some globetrotting bureaucrat and would rather look to the new breed of African intellectuals who Ghanaian economist George Ayittey calls the “Cheetah Generation.” Many of these “Cheetahs” are young Africans who are dissatisfied with the status quo and are willing to tell an alternative side of the story – their story.  These individuals are looking to entrepreneurship and innovation as the means to Africa’s success, a drastic departure from centralization and government control, which has been the norm. They are telling their stories of Africa as an economic success and emphasizing the importance of private enterprise and capitalism in achieving economic growth. These Africans are building businesses and starting student groups promoting the narrative of capitalism as a viable alternative to state control, illuminating the market’s ability to bring millions out of poverty. These are the ones I can trust to tell our story.


Since 2010, Nigerian entrepreneur Tony Elumelu has told his own story, a story of an Africa with the potential to address its chronic economic and social challenges through private enterprise and entrepreneurship rather than through aid or government-to-government charity. He has promoted what he calls Africapitalism. In his words, “as private enterprise and entrepreneurship take root in Africa, they are showing their potential to solve social problems. This is a drastic departure from the old model of centralized governments managing basic industries, supplemented with charity and foreign aid.” In his manifesto, Africapitalism: The Path to Economic Prosperity and Social Wealth he makes an unequivocal case for private enterprise and capitalism, encouraging “long-term, wealth-creating investments that build up communities, create opportunities to emerge from extreme poverty.” He advocates for market-based solutions to solving Africa’s social problems and endorses capitalism as the approach to “rebuilding and rebranding Africa as a land of investment, innovation and entrepreneurship”. I agree with him on this and believe that this approach to rebranding Africa is more worthwhile than any government campaign. Through the works of Tony Elumelu, organizations like as well as other countless organizations and individuals are lending their voices to the promotion of capitalism in Africa. I am optimistic about the future of the continent.



Olumayowa Okediran is a member of the Students For Liberty International Executive Board.

Mayowa believes there can be more to Africa than the posture of the bowl and the beggar